American Airlines greatly improves automatic mileage reinstatement for award tickets

Jun 25, 2020

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American Airlines has made quite a few changes to the AAdvantage program since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

It all started when the carrier announced that it’s extending elite status through Jan. 31, 2022. As part of the news, AA also announced some creative and generous promotions, including the ability to earn Million Miler status from credit card spend.

However, buried in the announcement was a change to the award change and redeposit fee structure that wasn’t necessarily good news, depending on how you redeem your miles. The positive is that all awards can now be changed or canceled 60 or more days before departure. The negative is that you can no longer make free date and time changes that were otherwise allowed under the program.

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On April 24, the carrier quietly introduced automatic mileage reinstatement for canceled awards. Previously, you’d need to call in to cancel any of your AAdvantage awards and get your miles put back in your account. With the new feature, eligible trips can be canceled and redeposited through the website.

Though automatic mileage reinstatement was great news, unfortunately very few tickets were eligible for the service.

Just two months later, the carrier has made another quiet — but very positive — update by expanding eligibility for this service. Specifically, you can now cancel your awards online and automatically get the miles back so long as your ticket qualifies for a free redeposit.

Related: Why now is the perfect time to book American Airlines awards

Previously, automatic mileage reinstatement post-July 1 was limited to Executive Platinum members traveling as a single passenger, booked with the member’s miles.

Now that AA has updated the ticket eligibility, many more customers can take advantage of this time-saving feature. If you book any award in the month of June, your ticket has free cancellations and can be automatically redeposited, regardless of the number of passengers or your elite status. And going forward, this means that any award ticket can be redeposited online so long as it’s canceled more than 60 days before departure.

American Airbus A321T (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are still a few other requirements for being eligible for automatic mileage reinstatement. The reservation must be on American Airlines flights only and booked through the U.S. version of the website. Additionally, travel must not have begun, and no other changes have been made to the trip since the ticket was issued.

Related: American’s new change-fee policy removes some flexibility

If you fit the bill, then you’ll automatically get your miles back into your account within 48 hours of canceling your trip online.

Note that under this new policy, Executive Platinum travelers should now receive automatic reinstatement of miles on virtually all American-operated award tickets ticketed on the U.S. version of — since reinstatement fees are waived on all tickets, regardless of how far in advance you cancel your flight.

For all other trips, you’ll still need to call AA to cancel and redeposit your miles. However, the expanded eligibility is another step in the right direction — and one that I hope continues to get expanded in the near future.

All photos by the author. 

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